It's always nice to see my work recognised and appreciated, especially when it has an impact on other people's lives, and I was pleased to see a photo of mine pop up on my social media feed today. Of all days.
Eight years ago today, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting approximately 130,000 people in the UK. I’m one of the lucky ones. My two relapses which prompted the diagnosis, were minor and fleeting, with no lasting effects. I was put on disease-modifying drugs within 4 months of my diagnosis which just involves a tablet taken twice a day (no injections or infusions) and I’ve had no relapses since.
Instead of letting the diagnosis get the better of me, I began collaborating with the MS Society UK and over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to use my photography skills to contribute to various MS Society projects, including capturing stories for their MS Matters magazine, documenting events at the Houses of Parliament, covering award ceremonies, and shooting for their website, reports and other printed publications. Additionally, I had the privilege of working behind-the-scenes on a PIP 20-metre rule awareness film, from which today's social media photo originated.
When I first began working with them I almost felt guilty for having MS. Pointing my camera at people with more progressive and aggressive forms of the same disease that I have, whilst I show no visible signs and suffer no symptoms at all. What I now appreciate is how much of an impact my condition has on my connections with the people I’m photographing, helping them to feel relaxed, comfortable and confident. That’s massively important when working within a community like this, especially when I’m standing in a small hospital room photographing a consultation between an MS patient and their neurologist.
Working with the MS Society UK has been a fascinating, fulfilling, and humbling experience and I’ve met some truly inspiring individuals, from those living with MS to the dedicated team working tirelessly to raise awareness.